2020 Summer Research Scholarship Recipients


Image of Elias Bashir

Elias Bashir

I am researching the longitudinal data of students who enroll in MATH 99: Introduction to Algebra. In my project, I will examine the path that students at Western take following their successful completion of MATH 99.  I am hoping to help answer the question:  Is student performance in MATH 99 a predictor of future performance in related courses at WWU?

Faculty Mentor: Jen Nimitz


Image of Ariana Flournoy

Ariana Flournoy

I have recently obtained my B.A in Geology with a minor in Astronomy from Western Washington University. I am currently doing a research experiment using a large wave tank in the Environmental Science building to create deltas and test paleoclimate hypotheses based on similar delta formations in craters such as Jezero, Eberswalde, and Gale Craters on Mars. This experiment will hopefully allow us to understand more about the paleoclimate of Mars and if life could have existed there!

Faculty Mentor: Brady Foreman

Immage of Annaliese Miller

Annaliese Miller

"This summer I have been working on piloting a system to characterize eclipsing binary stars from already existing all-sky surveys. This will cut down on the observations needed from telescopes and help our understanding of what properties stars have and how they evolve over time.. The analysis combines photometry (how much light is coming from the star) and spectroscopy (how electromagnetic radiation reacts with matter) to complete a full picture of a binary star. The photometry will allow us to calculate the radii, orbital period, inclination while the spectroscopy will help to calculate the radial velocities and the masses.  We have been running this pilot on a specific system where both stars have half the mass of the Sun and are around 60% of its size. The stars are about 3 million km apart which is less than distance between the Sun and Mercury. These two stars also take approximately a day to orbit around each other. We hope to extend this analysis to more eclipsing binaries in these coming months."

Faculty Mentor: Kevin Covey

Image of Brittany Mureno

Brittany Mureno

My project is part of a larger ongoing work called Unifying Science for Students. We are studying the ways in which students transfer science concepts across disciplinary boundaries, particularly the concept of energy. Energy is an important crosscutting idea in the sciences, but many students have difficulty relating the energy ideas learned in physics to other science classes. My group and I work to understand how students reason as they solve challenging think-aloud interview problems. My work on the project consists of collecting interview data, transcribing and coding interviews, and doing statistical and qualitative data analysis. We are hoping to publish a manuscript soon. 

Faculty Mentor: Andrew Boudreaux

Image of Alex Peele

Alex Peele

I has been working on a physics education research project developing teaching tools that assist students in refining their math skills. The project aims to identify and help overcome student difficulties with applying mathematical principles to solve physics problems. This research involves creating specialized tests that probe a specific type of mathematics reasoning, such as interpreting ratios, and analyzing whether those tests were effective in strengthening students' math foundation so they can better understand physics.

Faculty Mentor: Andrew Boudreaux

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Melissa Swift

My research focuses on finding computationally efficient methods for isolating and visualizing events in videos that happen over longer timescales (such as a timelapse of a glacier receding or a river changing its course). The goal is to isolate the long-term changes by attenuating the short-term changes that create visual noise. We are exploring this problem with both traditional computer vision techniques as well as deep neural networks.

Faculty Mentor: Scott Wehrwein

Alessandra Hughes

I've been working with my fellow student researcher Brittany Mureno to explore students' interdisciplinary learning of energy concepts. We've used several methods of qualitative analysis to identify themes of students use of energy concepts, previously learned in a physics course, to problems in a new disciplinary context.

Faculty Mentor: Andrew Boudreaux